Friday, December 23, 2011

Breaking the Slavers' Stockade

Do the rules for invisibility (stay invisible until you attack someone) need a rewrite? My players exploit this so that when they are going into enemy territory, their standard practice is to rinse-and-repeat over a couple days until the entire party is invisible—and then have the magicians memorize it once more before they set out. And this is what they did when it was time to invade the slavers’ fort.

It was a large party that set out from Quitokai—Gwinch & his secretary Saisho; Kishi and her protectors, Deng & Little Gamo; Kreppu-San; Gunjar; and a new a new PC, a wandering priest named Sho-Ji (I think, please correct me Isa-Girl-Monkey, if necessary). And then there were Gwinch’s student-monks and a couple villagers from Quitokai to guide them to the fort, which was situated, like most forts, on a rocky promontory at the confluence of two shallow rivers.

A couple scouted out the way on foot, first, and finding a ramshackle combination of ruined stone work and wooden palisade at the back of a muddy plateau near the top of the promontory, the party decided it was ok for everyone to go up, with their horses.

I said everyone was invisible, but the horses were not, and neither were the student-monks. Sticking to the cover of the rocks and vegetation, the party circled the fort and made a camp above it and hatched a rough plan. They’d wait for nightfall, when the invading party (everyone except little Gamo and the student-monks who’d be “watching” with their bows in case their invisible friends looked like they needed help) would scale the wall at the back of the fort. The fort was surrounded by a muddy ditch that seemed to have something living in it and a few hours observation had suggested the thing in the ditch stayed at the front of the fort.

As they approached the fort, they noticed guards patrolling the walls. They chose an opportune time and place, and used some magic to incapacitate the guards, and then get everyone over the wall. (And yes, casting invisibility again on the briefly visible priest who’d cast hold person.)
Then they began to look around. They found in a tower, the barracks for a large number of off-duty guard. In a recent, generally unsuccessful expedition, they’d encountered a vicious spirit creature which, when wounded by magic (seemingly the only way to harm it) took the form of a spider. Whereupon, Saisho, a collector of spiders, had scooped it up in a little jar. So . . . Kishi picked the lock on the barracks door, Saisho tossed the spider jar inside, Kishi barred the door shut again, and everyone listened to the spider resume its fierce undead monster form and begin tearing up slaver guards. The guards had a nice alarm system, and soon much of the fort was rushing to the aid of their comrades.

The party watched. Icar—a man of seemingly considerable power, both in his person and in his role as sort type of commander, held his ground against the vicious creature, but even his glowing sword seemed useless against it.

Taking advantage of the “distraction,”-- and also by following the ebb and flow of defenders first marching towards and then running away from the spirit creature—the party found a long and dark terraced room prison in which a deep-reverberating moaning provoked a great sense of unease among the party and seemed to hold its occupants in a dread trance. The source of the moaning—something like a very large bat that hovered in the air like a fish does in the water— was brought down by twin volleys of magic missiles from Saisho and Kishi.

Gwinch removed from Icar, the fallen commander, his glowing sword and they keys to the prisoners’ shackles. The party moved quickly—although the sounds of “battle” had moved to the opposite side of the fort, the slavers’ panicked screams were more infrequent suggesting to the party that the creature would eventually circle back toward them—and unlocked the slaves and climbed back over the wall. As they were remounting their horses and beginning their descent from the plateau, they could hear the sound of a woman’s voice rallying the remaining troops. A flash of lightning from inside the fort suggested perhaps she had resources for dispatching the evil spirit.

The party made haste back down the trail to the river.

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